Taylor Explores the World

El Nuevo Tucho Restaurante Centro

Location: Calle 60 #482 between Calle 55 and 57, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Hours:  12:00-21:00
Show:  15:30
Restaurant Style: Botana

I had seen this botana, El Nuevo Tucho Restaurant, listed on TripAdvisor and was eager to try it; free food for drinking, how could you go wrong?  It was easy enough to find, just a few blocks from Ko’ox Art 57.   A herd of servers came running at us the minute we entered to sit and serve us.  Our server, Fernando, was a middle aged thin man; our server simply because he was the first one to reach us when we entered.  The place had very few people there to fill the immense space – it worried me at first but again we were there in between traditional Mexican meal times. 

We had never experienced Michelada style beer, so we ordered two at $43MXN a beer.  A Michelada style beer is beer mixed with Clamato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce (or soy sauce), lime juice, has tajin or salt on its rim and is served on ice.  The live entertainment was just beginning, a singing duet, a man and woman, accompanied by a live band.  Next thing we knew, a round of beers and food came. 

At botanas you get free food for every drink you buy.  Each free round of food, with drink purchase, included 5 small plates with regional specialties on them.  Our first round included: soft breadsticks with crema, 2 kibis (an Arabic kibbeh or meatball made of wheat and meat brought with Lebanese immigrants), Sikil P’ak (a toasted pumpkin seed hummus), black beans, picadillo de res (it tasted like a beef ceviche to me).  We munched and sampled everything; it was a great way to try a lot of regional specialties without having to worry about wasting money.

Service was impeccable.   If we ran out of something our waiter, Fernando, was quick to replace it.  There was a bus boy that seemed to be dedicated to our waiter; he was the best bus boy I have ever experienced.  You could not set your dirty napkin down or push an empty plate to the side, he would remove it almost instantly or if you wiped the sweat from your drink or the table, he would come and wipe the table down.   They were very attentive and it honestly was the best service I have experienced.

Our second round we ordered a globe sized margarita on the rocks ($60MXN) and a Modelo Especial beer ($43MXN) for drinks, the food we received included: nachos, a vaporcito (a tamale in a banana leave), 2 relleno negro salbutes (charred black peppers season these salbutes – oh so delicious!), 2 mole enchiladas and a pork and rice plate.  The Globe margarita was okay; it came out blue colored as most do in the region, I honestly think it tasted fine but the color mentally threw me and I would not order another.

Once they cleared the food plates and we did not order a replacement drink for a while, they brought us our dessert round of food which included mandarin and orange wedges, a pile of tamarindo and peanuts.  We picked at the plate while we talked and finished our drinks.  The bill totaled $189MXN (~$15USD).  We left $240MXN (less than $20USD) to include the tip and it seemed our waiter was thrilled with that.  How could you beat this?  Alcoholic drinks, food and entertainment for 2 people for under $20 with excellent service, it was a great deal.

It was such a good deal with great service we returned the next day.  This time we entered from the back, passing the fenced in children’s playground they have for their customers.  We were quickly greeted by our waiter from the day before, who ushered us to a table close to the front.  On our second visit we arrived at the end of another duet, the woman from the day before and another woman who were accompanied by the house band.  As they closed and the next set began we got to experience El Tucho’s wonderful drag show.  The TAUCHy’s show consists of a man, pudgy girl and drag queen putting on a musical skit comedy show.  A little raunchy at times, the show was very funny with tons of families present and people were laughing as characters taunted people in the audience.

Today, it was packed, business men, couples, families and groups filled the giant room.  We each ordered a beer.  As we sat drinking, I noticed that the common drink amongst men and women was the Piña Colada.  For our second round Leroy ordered a globe margarita ($60MXN) and I ordered a globe sized Piña Colada ($60MXN).  Can I say oh my gosh it was the best Piña Colada I have ever had!  This is saying a lot; I make them at home with fresh pineapple and Coco Lopez so I know a good Piña Colada and this was the best.   

The second round food wise we were rewarded for our return, our waiter gave us a complimentary plate of poc-chuc amongst our free botana foods, grilled pork that has been marinated in Yucatecan spices, oh so yummy.  He never said that it was special, “free” or anything just announced what it was and placed it on the table; it was then listed as comped on the check when he gave it to us.

I ended up having another Piña Colada and Leroy tried one too because of my raving for our third round.  We did not eat as much on our second visit as we had on our first, probably because we filled up by all the drinks.  This visit I had to use the bathroom.  Usually my rule at any new restaurant is to use the bathroom before you order because sometimes you can find out a lot: A) most times you have to walk passed the kitchen to get to the bathrooms, so you can somewhat visually check its cleanliness and its workers cleanliness and B) if the bathroom is absolutely disgusting, do you really want to eat there?  

I did not follow my own rule this time and usually when this happens I avoid using it at all costs, I do not want to know then how bad it really is.  I could not hold it any longer, dang delicious piña coladas.  It is always scary to take this trip once you have already ingested food and drink from the establishment; it can feel like you are walking the plank, walking to see how sick you will be in a few hours.   I sat watching a lot of women were using it, I figured it cannot be that bad.  Off I went, praying the whole walk there and when I opened the door… I was thrilled it was not dirty, it was really clean!!!!! 

El Nuevo Tucho Centro’s have wonderful service, cheap drinks, great free food, live entertainment and clean bathrooms.  It honestly was a great find.  Our bill was a little more on our second trip because we drank a lot more; 2 beers, 3 Piña Coladas and a Margaritas came to $326MXN ($26) and we left $400 to cover the tip.  We had a wonderful time and will definitely be making this a regular stop on our trips to Merida.  Cannot wait to go back!


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